Health insurance, like any other kind of insurance, is an arrangement that provides members with an opportunity to contribute to a fund that can be drawn from when one needs medical care.
However, most Ugandans have not yet appreciated or realized the importance of taking out health insurance policies, and Insurance providers like AAR, IAA, Excel Insurance, Jubilee Insurance, and others are increasingly finding it hard to sell policies.
So in order to encourage all employed Ugandans to embrace health insurance, on Monday, June 24, 2019, the Ugandan cabinet approved the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) 2019.
According to the scheme, every employee above 18 years is supposed to contribute four per cent of their monthly salary towards the scheme, while the employer will contribute one per cent, making five per cent.
Dr Sarah Byakika, the Commissioner for Policy, Finance, and planning with the Ministry of Health, said that the scheme is a must-pay-for by all Ugandan employees.
She said individuals in the informal sector will pay a proposed Shs100,000 annually towards their insurance policies.
“For a person whose income is derived from salaried employment, a monthly deduction from the wage will be done by the employers, and those whose income is derived from self-employment will make an annual contribution in the manner and the rate that may be prescribed in the regulations,” Dr Byakika said.
Despite the fact that the Health Insurance Scheme is intended to relieve Ugandans from directly pulling money out of their pockets to spend on medical bills, workers from the formal sector have since vowed to block the new National Health Insurance scheme.
They claim that it’s another burden, yet they are already burdened by a number of taxes they pay to the government, like Pay As You Earn (PAYE), VAT, among others.
But it should be noted that health insurance schemes are supposed to reduce unforeseeable health care costs through regularly paid premiums.
The main point of a health insurance plan for employees is to protect and support their health and wellbeing so they can remain active and productive members of the organisations they work for, or even if they self-employed, it will help them cover medical bills.
A healthy mind is an indispensable prerequisite for productivity only if thriving in a healthy body. Therefore, there is no need to ask why health insurance is important for not only employees but every Ugandan.
But, as the workforce is developing and people are no longer willing to accept a poor work-life, majority of companies in Uganda and other African countries now understand that it’s not just “nice to have a quite healthy and productive workforce but it’s necessary to pay health insurance policies for their workers.
According to a MetLife study, 60% of employers found that health benefits helped their staff become more productive. This is because healthy people are able to accomplish much more in their time at work, and are less prone to burnout in the workplace.
Preventative medical solutions can amplify the benefits where staff are aware and engaged with such perks, and extending coverage to dependents and family can also relieve external stress.
The obvious benefit of having a healthy workforce is that healthier employees are absent less often. Healthy workers are more motivated to stay in work, recover from sickness quicker and are at less risk of long term illness.